PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: At 7 AM last Sunday we crossed over the low, iron bridge, that staff and security people use to enter Ellis Island, to begin eleven-hours of making photographs inside the unrestored southern half of the Ellis Island complex. Tony Sweet organized this, first of its kind, event, and John McInnes, Public Programs Manager at Save Ellis Island guided us. The day was well planned and we were led by people who cared deeply about the places we were visiting.
There is an excellent photo tour of the buildings we visited here: http://www.scoutingny.com/abandoned-ellis-island-and-how-it-can-be-saved/
The southern half of Ellis Island holds the hospital buildings and related buildings as described on the link above. From within those buildings we could sometimes, see through grimy glass, the throngs of Sunday tourists disembarking to see the grand restorations on the northern half of the island. Ours was a world away and mostly silent.
I spent much of the day enjoying, but not photographing, an art installation entiteled, "Unframed –Ellis Island," placed in this most unlikely of galleries. There was much else to hold my lens. Late in the day I realized how much the art installation was calling to my lens to find ways to angle it and frame it.
We emerged from from this surreal journey Sunday evening and each of us encountered separately the news that had been blistering the world all day, and as I drove home from Jersey City Sunday night I thought about what Ellis island has still to say to us today.